Senior Nahla Dominguez was just three when she started playing soccer for a team in Rogers Park. Now, nearly 15 years later, with a commitment to Chicago State and four years on ETHS’ varsity team under her belt, Dominguez’s early start clearly prepared her to excel at all aspects of the sport through high school and beyond.
“My mom was born in Mexico, and soccer is just a really, really big sport there, so I started playing on a team in Rogers Park,” Dominguez elaborates. “It was a very Hispanic league, and, so, I think being in an environment where the kids looked like me and the coaches spoke my language made me want to keep going.”
Throughout her time at ETHS, Dominguez has won MVP for Evanston, scored a last minute free kick against New Trier and even played for the U17 Mexican National Team. However, these accomplishments haven’t come without dedication and challenges along the way.
“I just think hard work is [what got me here], but especially [the] support from my teammates, my coaches, and especially my mom—that’s my biggest, biggest support. She’s always been there for me; she pushes me to be where I am,” Domiguez notes. “But, above all of that, I think the love for the game can outweigh anything hard on the field.”
Yet, when Dominguez began the college recruitment process, she wasn’t even sure that she would be able to play at the collegiate level. It wasn’t until Domiguez met with the head coach, Mario Felix, that Dominguez knew Chicago State was exactly where she would be for the next four years of her life.
“I was really on the fence about playing [in college]. COVID hit and that was a really crucial time to get recruited, [and] nothing really kicked off,” Dominguez explains. “I was feeling really overwhelmed, but, luckily, Mario Felix saw me play during my high school season. I met with him, and he was all about, ‘I’m here to give Latino kids a chance. I believe that everyone should get a chance to play, not just the white kids or the people who can pay to play.’”
Today, just months away from playing for Chicago, Dominguez has a lot to look forward to, even outside of soccer, with plans to study political science—a major with which she shares a personal connection.
“I see political science because I want to do something that has to do with activism and civil rights and just being a voice to the people,” Dominguez elaborates. “Last year, when all the political stuff was going on, I was just thinking, ‘Man, it really sucks for the people just like me that have my face, or my family members, and undocumented people who don’t have a say, who can’t vote in this election, and will just have to keep quiet.’”
“I just really want to be a voice for my people.”